Don't Trust Your Eyes; They Ca...

Don't Trust Your Eyes; They Can Deceive You

Expert Profile

Dr. Rajesh Kumar is working as Head of the Department of Forensic Science Government Institute of Forensic Science, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India. He completed M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Forensic Science in 2006 and 2013 respectively. He has been working in the area of automated forensic examination for more than fourteen years. His area of research includes Computational Forensics, Multimedia Forensics, Image Processing, and Pattern Recognition. The quality of his research is evident from his publications in journals of high impact factors. Before joining the academics, he has worked in various FSLs of the country including CFSL Hyderabad and FSL Delhi for more than eight years and examined more than 300 cases. He has delivered more than 50 invited talks in various institutions including IIT Delhi, ISI, Kolkata, and CBI Academy, Ghaziabad. For his contribution to the forensic community, Dr. Kumar received the prestigious Young Scientist Award from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.  


In the given lecture, Dr. Rajesh Kumar told us about Social media has deeply influenced our lives. As one fact, social media has reduced the distance between people around the globe. However, misinformation and disinformation circulated through social media have also shown their adverse side.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in crime related to social media. In this talk, an overview of misleading visual information, such as, and its impact on society will be discussed. Moreover, many awareness tips will be shared as well.

What is Fake News?

Though social media has become almost an important part of our daily lives but we can’t always depend on it. Spreading fake news or misinformation is not new in social media. There are two kinds of fake news like stories that aren’t true and stories that have some truth but aren’t 100% accurate. False rumors on messaging platforms like WhatsApp are on the rise. These rumors, however, can have deadly effects. For example, a false video led to several murders of suspected child kidnappers in India. Fake news stories on social media used to be mostly in text form. Today, they appear in richer formats like pictures, audio, and video. Digital technologies allow us to easily create fake content in all these formats. News is verifiable for the public interest. The appropriate term is information disorder.

Information Disorder

The developing of false information with or without the intent of harming and they are categorized as

  • Mis-information – Mis-information is when false information is shared, but no harm is meant.
  • Dis-Information – Dis-information is when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm.
  • Mal-Information – Mal-information is when genuine information is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere.

Misleading Content

Misleading content is a heading or the whole article that was created to misinform the readers or watchers. Misleading content is not cover the whole article. The particular article is considered misleading if only some facts are invented and the article is using manipulative the truth or hiding the truth intentionally. There are three important factors of misleading content that can be found in every fake news story, i.e. fake trust, fake information, and manipulation. Several types of misleading content like fabricated, manipulated, imposter content, Clickbait, propaganda, parody, misleading headings, sloppy journalism, and biased news.

1. Fabricated Content – It is completely false content.

2. Manipulated Content – It is a distortion of genuine information or imagery for example a headline that is made more sensationalist. There is some term which is coming under manipulated content (Cloning, Splicing, Resampling, Morphing, and Deep fake/deep porn).

  • Cloning – It is part of the image itself is copied and pasted part of the same image.
  • Splicing – It is a common form of photographic manipulation where splicing of two or more images are done to create a single composite.
  • Resampling – It is to create a convincing composite, it is often necessary to resize, rotate, or stretch some portions of an image.
  • Morphing – It is an image is converted from one to another by gradually making the change in the image.
  • Deep Fake – Deep fake are images, video and audio recording where face and voice is synthesized using deep learning algorithm to look or sound like the real one. 

3. Imposter Content – It is the impersonation of genuine sources like using the branding of an established news agency.

4. False Context of connection – It is factually accurate content that is shared with false contextual information for ex: when a headline of an article does not reflect the content.

5. Satire and Parody – It is presenting humorous but false stores as if they are true. Although not usually categorized as fake news, this may unintentionally fool readers.

6. Clickbait – It is a method when the author is using the eye-catching title to drive visitors to several platforms like Facebook (Meta), Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites.

7. Propaganda – It is designed to mislead audiences and promote biased opinions. It is used to form a particular view and set the agenda.

Important Elements of Information Disorder

Examples of information disorder, the study proposes to consider three elements i.e. Agent, Message, and interpreter. 

  • Agent – Agents are involved in all three phases of the information chain – creation, production and distribution – and have various motivations. Importantly, the characteristics of agents can vary from phase to phase. Who were the agents that created produced and distributed the example, and what was their motivation?

  • Message – Messages can be communicated by agents in person (via gossip, speeches, etc.), in-text (newspaper articles or pamphlets), or in audio/visual material (images, videos, motion graphics, edited audio-clip, memes, etc.). While much of the current discussion about ‘fake news’ has focused on fabricated text articles, mis- and dis-information often appears in visual formats. This is important, as technologies for automatically analyzing text are significantly different from those for analyzing still and moving imagery. What type of message was it? What format did it take? What were the characteristics?

  • Interpreter – Audiences are very rarely passive recipients of the information. An ‘audience’ is made up of many individuals, each of which interprets information according to his or her own socio-cultural status, political positions, and personal experiences. When the message was received by someone, how did they interpret the message? What action, if any did they take?

Phases of Information Disorder

The life of an example of information disorder is considered as having three phases which is mentioned below:

  • Creation – The message is created (Article conceived by an unidentified person).
  • Production – The message is turned into a media product (Article published on the site WTOE5 News, part of a network of 43 fabricated news sites, which published over 750 articles.).
  • Distribution – The message is distributed or media public (Article shared on Facebook by someone working for this network of fabricated sites).

Detecting of Information Disorder

There are several ways to detect the information disorder which are as follows:

Reverse Image Search, YouTube Data Viewer, EXIF Viewer, Multimedia Forensics and Social Media Analysis.

  • Reverse Image Search – This is especially useful in case of misleading content and false context. Some of the popular tools are Google Reverse Image Search, TinEye, and RevEye.

  • YouTube Data Viewer – There is no free effective reverse video search tool. Some of the tools available for thumbnails based image search to detect an earlier version of the video like Amnesty’s YouTube Data Viewer, InVID (stopped giving free service since March 2019), and NewsCheck.

  • EXIF Viewer – Exif (Exchangeable Image File) is metadata attached to visual contents created by digital cameras. It is helpful to provide the following information like Data and time, camera makes and mode, Geolocation.

  • Multimedia Forensics – It includes a set of scientific techniques recently proposed for the analysis of multimedia signals like audios, videos and images. It’s give an assessment on such a content and to extract information that can be useful to address and support an investigation linked to the scene represented in that specific digital document.

  • Social Media Analysis – There are many tools available to monitor and examine social media trends of a message like Crowd Tangle, OSINT.

How to Spot Fake News?

In this scenario, fake news is nothing new. It’s also nothing to be afraid of. When armed with the right tools and information from spoken word to the first newspapers and now through to social media. There are many ways to spot fake news, for example, Developing a critical mindset, checking the source, seeing who else is reporting the story, examining the evidence, don’t take images at face value, and checking that it sounds right.


In today's world, social media platform has a great impact on everyone's life. It has a positive as well as a negative influence. What we see is what we believe. But what we see cannot be true every time. People may spread negative or false news through these social media platforms. This can be dangerous and may mislead the public in various ways. It might hamper the peace and prosperity of people. But we as responsible citizens need to have a conscious mind to differentiate between what is reality and what is just a rumor.

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